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September 20, 2001

Shevchenko Foundation Pledges Support for the Publication of Hrushevsky's History of Ukraine-Rus'

The Hrushevsky Translation Project undertaken by the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, is engaged in producing a complete English translation of Mykhailo Hrushevsky's History of Ukraine Rus', making this most important history of Ukraine fully accessible to Western scholars and readers.

Mykhailo Hrushevsky (1866-1934), universally recognized as the paramount historian of Ukraine, left a legacy of about two thousand published books, articles, and essays. The most important of them is his magnum opus, the ten-volume History of Ukraine-Rus', which presents a scholarly synthesis of the entire history of the Ukrainian people. By choosing to write this brilliant work in Ukrainian, Hrushevsky contributed greatly to elevating Ukrainian to a language of scholarship, but also placed a limit on the international impact of his work. Acclaimed at the time of its publication, the History was soon suppressed by the Soviet government and, for decades, exerted only a very limited influence on Western scholarship and on the process of shaping the international image of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. For the most part, Western attitudes toward Ukraine were and often still are based on the Russocentric theories of "Great Russian" and pro-Russian scholars.

The first two volumes of the current English edition of the History, published in 1997 and 2000, received high praise from leading specialists in the field and have already visibly influenced the academic and non-academic community. A leading specialist in the history of Russia, the late Professor Thomas S. Noonan of the University of Minnesota, commented: ?With the launching of the English edition of Hrushevsky's History, we begin a new era, a time when the greatest of the histories of Ukraine shall become available to all those interested in East Slavic history. The monopoly long enjoyed by Kliuchevsky and other "Great Russian" historians has finally been broken. Roderick Fraser, president of the University of Alberta, exclaimed: "The Hrushevsky Project may well prove to be the most important scholarly project in Ukrainian studies undertaken in the West in the twentieth century!" The Hon. David Kilgour, Secretary of State in the Government of Canada, called the Hrushevsky Project "a great gift from the people of Canada to international scholarship and, in particular, to the people of Ukraine."  

The current English edition is not a mere translation of the Ukrainian text. It has been thoroughly checked for accuracy and augmented by bibliographies of all works cited by the author; it also features introductions, bibliographic updates, and commentaries reflecting the current state of scholarship in the field. This complex and costly work has been funded primarily by interest from the endowment fund established in 1989 by Mr. Petro Jacyk. However, in order to speed up the editing and publication process and maximize the History's impact on the international academic community, several generous sponsors have donated $100,000 each toward the publication of individual volumes. The elite group of six such sponsors consists of Mr. Petro and Mrs. Ivanna Stelmach (volume 1), Mrs. Olga Pawluk (volume 7), Mrs. Hanna Mazurenko (volume 8), Mrs. Sofia Wojtyna (volume 9, book 1), Mr. Michael and Mrs. Daria Kowalsky (volume 2), and Mr. Petro Jacyk and Dr. Jeanette Bayduza (volume 6).

In 2001, this unique elite group of generous donors was joined by Canada's most important community-based Ukrainian cultural foundation, the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, which pledged to provide ten annual donations in the sum of $10,000 each toward the publication of volume 9, book 2, of the English edition of the History. The Shevchenko Foundation was established in 1961, and since then it has served the Ukrainian community by providing financial support for projects that ensure the preservation of Ukrainian heritage and continuous development of Ukrainian culture in Canada. This year alone, the Foundation has awarded $275,000.00 to support projects that will benefit the Ukrainian community in Canada.

Volume 9, book 2, of Mykhailo Hrushevsky's History of Ukraine-Rus' is a monumental, painstakingly researched and documented study of the life and legacy of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky. It is the most authoritative scholarly work ever written on the subject, and its English translation will certainly exert a significant influence on the views of international scholars in the process of re-evaluating the history and global significance of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

By pledging support for the publication of this important volume, the Foundation of Taras Shevchenko is not only providing much-needed financial backing for the project and becoming the volume's official sponsor, but also symbolically expressing the support of the entire Ukrainian community in Canada for the Hrushevsky Translation Project. It provides an example for other individuals and organizations to follow, so that, working together, we Ukrainians can redefine the international image of our nation and history.


By : Marko Stech, Peter Jacyk Centre





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